ELA 9: Introduction to Literature—Semester A
Reading, writing, and rhetoric.
Shmoop's ELA 9 course has been granted a-g certification, which means it has met the rigorous iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses and will now be honored as part of the requirements for admission into the University of California system.
Over the course of the next four years, you're going to learn everything there is to know about literature. But you have to start somewhere, right? And that's what ELA 9 is all about—and freshman year's much less painful when it's administered by a website.
In Semester A's standard-aligned lessons, you will
- get your feet wet with language, grammar, essay-writing, short fiction, and poetry—and we'll even give you a taste of novels, including everyone's classic and contemporary literary sweethearts, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Book Thief.
- complete close-reading and big-picture analysis activities.
- create unit projects that appeal to every type of learner, from shiny essays to collages and interpretive dances.
By the end of the course, you'll be a regular ol' bibliophile—or at the very least, a total Jabberwocky.
P.S.: ELA 9: Introduction to Literature is a two-semester course. You're looking at Semester A, but you can check out Semester B here.
Unit 1. The Long and Short of It
This unit will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about words—and then some. We'll be talking grammar, syntax, diction, and everything else you'll need to master the rest of ELA-hood. At the same time, we'll closely read classic short stories, examining their most basic but essential elements: plot, characterization, and narration, to name a few.
Unit 2. The Ars Poetica
We'll read plenty of classic poems in this unit, but the main focus will be on diction and analysis. How can just a few choice words, line breaks, or parallel structural repetitions reveal worlds about a speaker's perspective? Shmoop's got you covered.
Unit 3. Shmoop's Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird is so beloved that it deserves its own unit. Through Harper Lee's classic, we'll think more about the novel form, starting basic through vocabulary and summary, and then use our fancy reading skills to analyze this timeless book. (Spoiler alert: the mockingbird is killed.)
Unit 4. Sometimes It's Okay to Steal a Book
In this unit, modern classic The Book Thief will help us dig deeper into the finer aspects of the novel after Unit 3 is under our belt. This World War II drama, narrated by death (yeah, you heard us) will be used to learn about motif, symbolism, allusion, and…oh yeah…themes.
Sample Lesson - Introduction
Lesson 5: Hey, Boo
We begin in Maycomb, a sleepy little town in Alabama.
The good: our heroes, the Finches, have lived there for generations and feel right at home in their friendly, cozy community.
The bad: this friendly, cozy community isn't so friendly and cozy with black people. This is 1930s America, and racism is the name of the ugly game. Our unnamed narrator gives us all the deets we need to understand the conflict that's about to erupt between the anti-racist Atticus and his racist but beloved neighbors.
After that intro, it's time for a vigorous hike up Freytag's pyramid, right through the rising action and climax. But the ending? We aren't going to give it away, but let's just say that we titled this lesson "Hey, Boo" for a reason.
In this lesson, you'll finish reading the book, and you'll also get a chance to reflect upon and analyze the way Harper Lee constructs the plot—climactic final scene and all. There's a lot to "like."
Sample Lesson - Reading
Reading 3.5: Chapters 25 – 31
Homestretch. Yep, there are seven chapters in this reading rather than six—but they're so exciting that we bet you won't even notice the extra one. Go right ahead and knock Chapters 25 – 31 out.
Don't forget to head over and catch all the good stuff in the Chapter Summaries:
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 3.5a: Boo "Likes" Your Post
These days, you can break down a life story into a timeline, some photos, and a few status updates, right? It's no wonder you feel overwhelmed when you come to school and have to read a story with cryptic characters and complex turns of events.
Way before the days of Facebook, Joseph Freytag helped us out by designing a neat and organized pyramid to analyze a story's format. Though the pyramid is criticized for oversimplifying stories (social media sites, anyone?), it can help you dig a bit deeper.
For starters, draw a pyramid—minus the camels and Egyptians. Make sure you're familiar with the following terms, and label them on the pyramid:
Now that the vocab is out of the way, let's jump into the action. Break down the plot of To Kill a Mockingbird using Freytag's Pyramid as a guide, writing out a few sentences describing each point on the pyramid itself. And since we're big fans of textual evidence, make sure to find at least one quote to illustrate each section.
Want to check your work? It just so happens that we have our very own plot breakdown here.
The dirty work is done, and it's time to bring To Kill a Mockingbird into the 21st century. And what better means than Facebook?
Seriously—this is a "thing" these days. Check out any of the following to see what we mean:
It's your turn to do your own version of what Schmelling did, for To Kill a Mockingbird. Make sure to include multiple characters—at least six—who each post during every point on Freytag's Pyramid. For those of you keeping track, that adds up to at least thirty lines.
Example? Sure, we got 'em:
- Scout Finch "likes" Maycomb, AL.
- Atticus Finch "likes" equality.
- Atticus Finch checked in at Macomb courthouse.
- Jem and Dill are now friends.
See what we've got going on here? These are super basic examples of how you might want to shape your own faux-book for our friends in TKAM.
Get creative and get cracking, Shmoopers. Don't worry about the graphics—just make sure you use the social network lingo to get across those plot points.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 3.5b: Words, Words, Words
We bet you don't need us to tell you, but we will anyway:
Flip back through the chapters you've already read to make a list of at least ten new-to-you vocabulary words.
Click on over to your favorite dictionary website to write down the definition.
Head back to Shmoop's DIY flashcard feature here to make your own vocab review.
And then review those bad boys. Don't forget to add these new words to your master list in your word processing document and upload the updated version below.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Quiz 3.5c: Mockingbirds
- Credit Recovery Enabled
- Course Length: 18 weeks
- Grade Levels: 9
- Course Type: Basic
ELA 8: American Voices—Semester A
ELA 8: American Voices—Semester B
Just what the heck is a Shmoop Online Course?
Common Core Standards
The following standards are covered in this course:CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1.A